Assyrian and Babylonian – dialects of the language collectively known as Akkadian – have not been spoken for almost 2,000 years.
“This is a heroic and significant moment in history,” beamed Dr Irving Finkel of the British Museum’s Middle East department.
As a young man in the 1970s Dr Finkel dedicated three years of his life to The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project which is based at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
That makes him something of a spring chicken in the life story of this project, which began in 1921.
Almost 90 experts from around the world took part, diligently recording and cross referencing their work on what ended up being almost two million index cards.